5. Sushi Hayakawa

75 Best Restaurants in Atlanta: Sushi Hayakawa
Art Hayakawa searing nigiri

Photograph by Andrew Thomas Lee

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You don’t have to spend $185 to eat at Sushi Hayakawa, but if you can, you should. Not only is that your entry fee to the restaurant’s 14-course, two-and-a-half-hour honkaku (authentic) omakase (a Japanese feast in which the diner lets the chef steer); it also gets you front-and-center seats at Atsushi “Art” Hayakawa’s sushi counter. Hayakawa is the most delightful character in Atlanta’s food scene, a master of his craft who’s as skilled at handling fish and rice as he is at charming his guests. During a recent visit, he greeted a diner and quickly recalled a litany of details about the man’s life. “How long has it been since I’ve seen you?” Hayakawa asked. “Seven years,” the man responded. If you can’t swing the honkaku omakase, try to get a spot at the sushi bar, where you can choose from a $135 or $95 tasting menu. The former will get you premium nigiri (the fish is flown in from Japanese markets) that Hayakawa gently brushes with his housemade soy sauce—and, if you’re lucky, his signature dish of monkfish liver and scallops. 5979 Buford Highway, 770-986-0010, sushihayakawa.com